December 25, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
This is a somewhat contemplative piece, set early in the time of human habitation on Reiassan.
The snow had stopped falling for the first time in two weeks. Pieparra had spent a hard half-hour shoveling out a clear space in front of the house and the goats were frolicking out there now, as glad to be out of the house as the human inhabitants were to have them out.
Her youngest daughter Teppiera and her son Ketpep were playing in the snow, digging tunnels through the heavy drifts. Her oldest daughter Zetya, however, was leaning against the house and glowering. Zetya had been the only one of their children born back in the old land, the only one who could remember a time before the cold season came down like this, with snow and frost-bite and long days cooped inside.
“I want to go home.” It was only the fifteenth time she’d said it today.
“This is our home now,” Pieparra answered, in direct defiance of her own decision not to respond to such unneeded whining.
“I want to go to our old home. The proper home.”
“This barley grows here.” It was an old saying, and one Pieparra had repeated to herself over and over again as this long winter stretched on. “Our home is growing here now.”
“Nothing grows here. Nothing but dirt, and rocks, and snow, and—”
“I made pie.” Pieparra’s mother poked her head out of the front door. “All the digging got us to the winter-cellar, and I pulled out some of the apples and some of the parsnips. And Bairon finally finished that flute he was working on.”
“Apples grow here,” Pieparra couldn’t resist pointing out.
“Apples grow here,” Zetya agreed. “I wonder if I could finish that drum I was working on…?”
“It’s right where you left it.” Pieparra let a smile cross her lips. “I think this is worth breaking out a little of the parsnip wine in the winter-cellar. We can make a feast of it.”
Zetya looked up, suspicious again. “What’s the occasion?”
“This.” Pieparra gestured at the sky. “The sun. The pie. The flute and your drum.”
“You want to celebrate the sun coming up?”
Zetya’s grandmother flapped a hand at her in remonstration. “After a while, my dear, you’ll find that you celebrate every morning the sun still comes up. If you can’t celebrate that, then celebrate the lovely day that Tienaabaa gives us and the chance to put our feet up and do some fine-work like your drum and the flute.”
“Tienaabaa.” Zetya shook her head. “You used to pray to Vinakentio and Zhillian and all the others.”
“And this barley grows here.” Bikkurka flapped her hand again. “Come inside, Zetya, or help your mother with the children. Give thanks to someone, like I do, that you made it that far.”
Pieparra watched her daughter’s expression soften. “Yeah,” she agreed quietly. “I can be thankful we made it this far. All of us.” She tilted her head up to the sky for a moment, where Tienaabaa lived, with the sun and the moons and stars they had once prayed to. “This barley isn’t so bad.”
It was only a momentary peace, Pieparra knew, like it was only a momentary break in the snow. The winter would go on long and hard if the previous snows were any indication. Still, she would take the lull she’d be given before the next storm.